Thank you, JUDGE CRAIG SCHWALL! Yours is an increasingly rare voice of reason. You very possibly saved this 3-year-old boy's life by your decision to deny his father visitation.
The facts as reported: Dad MICHAEL CALLAWAY was pretty much caught in the act of smothering his then 3-month-old son in the hospital. A security guard caught him, and the police and the attending doctor did not believe Dad's lame excuse. Fortunately, the baby survived.
Dad was indicted, but found "mentally incompetent" to stand trial (once again, we see that the mental health card works quite well for many dads, contrary to popular opinion). Dad's free on bond, ordered to have outpatient psychiatric treatement, and stay away from his son.
The mom, not surprisingly, decides she wants out of the marriage. But during the divorce case--apparently presided over by JUDGE LYNN ALDERMAN OF UNION COUNTY, GEORGIA--it is decided that "smother" daddy should get two hours of supervised visitation a week--the supervision to be performed by "smother" daddy's own parents! Who somehow managed to get custody of the child (Because Mommy's the one who is labeled the "unfit parent"in all this. The "non-smother" parent. Naturally.).
Well, thank goodness for Judge Schwall. He not only decided that this arrangement was "unacceptable"--given that "smother" daddy lives right down the street from the parents--but banned Daddy from Union County and seeing his other child. He also found out that Daddy had been involved in some racketeering business, but didn't get a mental health get-out-of-jail-free card for THAT. Or the DUI thing. Well, you know it is. He's a real slick dude, Daddy is. We all know the type. Although the family court judges seem to miss the slick dudes routinely.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
Accused father ordered to have no contact with son
By Bill Rankin
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Saying he felt deceived, a frustrated Fulton County judge on Thursday banned a father accused of trying to smother his son from having any contact with the 3-year-old boy.
“I don’t want him around the child,” Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall told a lawyer for Michael Callaway. “I’m not going to sit here in limbo wondering what’s going on with this child.”
Callaway, 31, faces a first-degree child cruelty charge on allegations he tried to smother his then three-month-old son at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital in March 2007. A security guard saw him enter the room and place his hands over the baby’s mouth and nose, causing the infant to flail his arms, cry and gasp for air. Callaway said the child was having a seizure, but police and the attending doctor did not believe him.
After being indicted, Callaway was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. Schwall allowed him to remain free on bond to receive outpatient psychiatric treatment at a clinic in Blue Ridge, provided he have no contact with his son.
But in July, in a divorce case filed by the child’s mother, a judge in Union County in far north Georgia allowed Callaway visitation rights with his son for two hours a week. Visits must be supervised by Callaway’s parents, Mike and Peggy Callaway of Blairsville, who gained custody of the child during the divorce.
Schwall said that arrangement was unacceptable, and he noted that Callaway now lives with a relative down the street from his parents.
Schwall banned Callaway from Union County and from seeing his son. He scheduled another hearing Monday to reconsider the conditions of Callaway’s $25,000 bond.
Schwall convened Thursday’s emergency hearing at the request of Fulton prosecutors who want Callaway reevaluated and his bond revoked. They disclosed that Callaway had pleaded guilty in February 2008 to 10 counts of theft by receiving in Gilmer County, also in north Georgia. In that case, Callaway and seven other men were charged in a racketeering scheme in which they stole construction vehicles, such as bulldozers and tractors, and then altered their identification numbers.
Callaway did not claim to be incompetent for trial before pleading guilty to those charges. He was sentenced to 10 years on probation. He also was charged with DUI in April 2008 in Union County, Assistant District Attorney Shireen Hormozdi told Schwall.
Schwall said he “would never, ever have allowed him to be free” had he been notified of those cases. “I think I’ve been deceived.”
Hormozdi also said she and an investigator recently visited the clinic in Blue Ridge and found Callaway hadn’t made regular visits for treatment.
Cornelia attorney Douglas McDonald Sr., Callaway’s lawyer, arrived in court with his shoulder in a sling because of recent surgery. He asked Schwall to postpone the hearing until he was off medication and could effectively represent his client, but Schwall declined.
“I’ve been thrust into a situation where I’m concerned about the safety of the child,” Schwall said.
If McDonald could not represent Callaway, who attended the hearing, he should find someone else to do so, the judge said.
McDonald opposed Schwall’s ruling.
“Michael is stable,” he said. “He ought to see his son.”
In her July ruling in the divorce-custody case, Union County Judge Lynn Alderman found the child’s mother to be an unfit parent. She cited a number of parenting problems and awarded custody to Callaway’s parents, allowing the mother to see the child every other weekend and on holidays.
The child’s mother, Wendy Garland, attended Thursday’s hearing and praised Schwall’s ruling.
“He doesn’t deserve the right to see my son,” Garland, 29, said of Callaway. “He needs to pay for what he’s done.”